LYME Regis Development Trust has confirmed that LymeNet, which has provided key skills, education and IT support to local people, closed down on October 19 after more than 18 years in business.
A spokesperson for Lyme Regis Development Trust (LRDT), which operated LymeNet, said: “Although this was a very sad day, we would like to take this opportunity to celebrate and remember the positive impact that LymeNet has had in the community and what has been achieved for the people of Lyme Regis and its surrounding areas over the years.”
LymeNet opened in 1999 in St Michael’s Business Centre, under the management of Trevor Golds, and quickly grew to become a place where old and young were learning side by side to study a wide range of topics, from maths, English, IT and French, to fossil hunting, using a mobile phone, web design and much more.
It had a well-deserved reputation for being a friendly and relaxed place to learn and most people requiring the service were often referred to LymeNet by word of mouth. The service also catered for visitors requiring help with varied requests, such as printing travel documents, small businesses requiring printing and photocopying, and children and young people for after school and homework clubs.
On occasions, LymeNet also supported local schools by providing education other than at support, as well as helping home-educated youngsters as a supplement to their learning.
Over the years the service was able to reach into the local extended community, and offered outreach in Charmouth, Bridport and neighbouring villages.
It also provided support to job seekers who would visit the centre for careers advice and guidance, and were able to use the LymeNet Job Club, which achieved many successful outcomes for its clients
Many positive relationships were gained and maintained along the way, working closely with organisations such as the Job Centre, Adult Education, Credit Union, Read Easy, the Boat Building Academy and the local food bank, and LRDT would like to thank all of them.
LymeNet was one of many such centres that opened in the late 1990s, but most of those closed after the first 10 years and soon it was the only one of its kind in a 25 mile radius, more recently operating from Lyme Regis Library. For local people without their own transport, or with child care or mobility issues, this was a vital service.
A number of people have worked for LymeNet during these 18 years, from paid employees to volunteers and LRDT would like to thank them all for their time, expertise and support.
A spokesperson for LRDT added: “And now, with a heavy heart, the time has come where sadly government funding, as with other learning centres, has dwindled over the years and in recent times LymeNet has only been saved because of some generous learning opportunities provided by the Big Lottery and Lloyds Foundation.
“The one remaining funding stream from the National Careers Service ended at the end of September and with it ended all hopes of keeping LymeNet open.
“Irene Benson, who started with LymeNet in 2000, was the only member of staff remaining and she left at the end of October with some wonderful memories of what LymeNet and its clients have been able to achieve.”
Mrs Benson commented: “So many individuals, of all ages, who have used our service over the years, still speak in glowing terms of what it has done for their confidence and self-esteem. They had a friendly, local facility where they could get support to learn new skills and individually tailored learning. Many of them worked towards and achieved qualifications.
“These were all things which, for a variety of reasons, they had no hope of achieving elsewhere. It has always given ‘that little bit extra’, which is why it has been able to make such a positive difference to so many lives.
“We would like to thank the people of Lyme Regis for their support of LymeNet for the past 19 years, we enjoyed working with you.”
Lyme Regis Development Trust intend to continue to offer office services such as photocopying, printing and laminating from its offices at The Hub on Church Street and will also be able to signpost residents to careers and learning services locally.
Lyme Regis residents are also welcome to attend Axminster Job Club, based at Pippins Community Centre in Lyme Road, Axminster, offering free careers advice, Citizens Advice and Learn Devon services, with free parking and refreshments. There is also a Job Club based at Bridport Library.